Dead Men Don’t Write

The posting about James Gray may be the first of an interesting series. At least, I am motivated to pursue it.

Certainly the idea of “letters home from the front lines” is not a new one, but I am definitely being drawn in to this fine, fine grain size for understanding wars, breaching across the time of the Civil War to the Vietnam War. There have been some collections of letters recently available, so I am pulling together a collection with this “letters home” theme.

One of these letters truly got my attention for the clear, clear poignancy of a simple, four-word phrase (and you can find it up there in the title). A soldier during the Korean conflict sent a letter home, dated “14 April 49” … and here is how it begins:


Don’t know if this off-spring of yours can be classified as lucky or not – he thinks maybe he is. You ask why? Goes like this: he’s still living. How does he know Well, he’s writing, and dead men don’t write.

I think that is rather stunning.

Let’s see if I can make something of it.

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